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Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction, Grades 4-12

Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction, Grades 4-12
Step-by-Step Lessons for Respect, Responsibility, and Results

35 Projectable Lessons!, With Illustrations by Satya Moses

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December 2014 | 248 pages | Corwin

NEWS FLASH:  A major meta-analysis of 213 studies showed an average 11 percent gain in academic performance for kids receiving explicit social-academic learning instruction.

Turns out this “soft stuff” about creating a culture of respect and rapport yields hard and fast gains, and that’s no surprise to collaboration “gurus” Harvey “Smokey” Daniels and Nancy Steineke. Now, these authors share a yearlong plan for helping you build powerful and binding peer-to-peer interactions. The added bonus:  Your kids will meet speaking and listening standards, while you score better on classroom-engagement rubrics.

Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction taps the instructional power of slides, full-color illustrations, and super succinct directions to teach both the language and the behaviors of working effectively with others. These 35 lessons take your kids on a carefully paced upward spiral of collaboration, with explicit coaching on how to speak, listen, argue, persuade—and get along. Here’s the best part: You model and your students practice these social skills with the content of your curriculum, not in disconnected add-on exercises.  

For each lesson, there are six to 25 slides that focus on one vital academic-social skill; step-by-step teaching tips are in the lie-flat planning book. The sequence looks mostly like this:

  • The first slides introduce the skill—like being a good partner or arguing both sides of a controversial topic—then explain its value.
  • The next slides help model the skill in action, using whatever curricular topic you happen to be teaching.
  • Now, kids’ active thinking is invited as you co-create strategies to enhance use of the target social-academic skill.
  • Additional slides help kids practice the skill using your curricular content as you monitor and support.
  •  Lessons end with a debriefing to solidify new understandings.

Any way you look at Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction, it’s a win-win. Your students realize better engagement in curriculum topics, higher performance, and social skills to last a lifetime. That’s really college and career ready! And our schools become safer harbors, where students know one another, respect one another, and learn together.

Longtime collaborators themselves, HARVEY “SMOKEY” DANIELS and NANCY STEINEKE have written six books together and are regular co-presenters at all the major literacy conferences. Both are former public school teachers who now work as national consultants, helping schools and districts to create friendly, supportive, and collaborative climates for young people. 

For an author-led walk-through of Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction, visit

Part I. Social-Academic Skills: The Missing Link
Chapter 1. The Problem and the Opportunity
Social-Emotional Learning and Academic Engagement  
What's Been Missing in School Reform  
Why We Must Teach Social-Academic Skills Now  
How to Address These Problems and Seize the Opportunities  
All Social Skills Programs Are Not Alike  
Our Theory of Action  
Chapter 2. Theory and Research on Social-Academic Skills Training
Research Base  
Starting With a Partner  
Building a Community of Acquaintance  
Building a Community of Respect, Inclusion, and Gratefulness  
Taking Personal Responsibility  
Teaching Interpersonal Skills Explicitly  
Stages of Learning Social Skills  
Positive Interdependence  
Reflection and Celebration  
The Bottom Line  
Chapter 3. How to Use This Resource
A Guide to the Slides  
Structure of the Lessons  
Order of the Lessons  
The Tips  
Assessment and Grading  
Trouble-Shooting Questions  
Part II. Lessons for Building Social-Academic Skills
Chapter 4. Getting Acquainted
Lesson 1. Forming Partners  
Lesson 2. Interviewing Your Partner  
Lesson 3. Home Court Advantage  
Lesson 4. Friendliness and Support  
Lesson 5. Classroom Climate Posters  
Chapter 5. Building Collaboration Skills
Lesson 6. Quiet Signal  
Lesson 7. Using Quiet Voices  
Lesson 8. Asking Follow-Up Questions  
Lesson 9. Think-Pair-Share  
Lesson 10. Good Partner Traits  
Chapter 6. Advanced Partner Work
Lesson 11. Active Listening  
Lesson 12. Extending Conversation  
Lesson 13. Expanding Acquaintance With an Appointment Clock  
Lesson 14. Mingle Jigsaw  
Chapter 7. Moving Into Small Groups
Lesson 15. Group Membership Grid Interviews  
Lesson 16. Sharing the Air  
Lesson 17. Saving the Last Word  
Lesson 18. Write-Arounds  
Lesson 19. Gallery Walk  
Chapter 8. Ongoing Discussion Groups
Lesson 20. Establishing Group Ground Rules  
Lesson 21. Overcoming Off-Task Triggers  
Lesson 22. Goal Setting for Group Improvement  
Lesson 23. Reinforcing Collaboration With Table Cards  
Lesson 24. Compliment Cards  
Chapter 9. Arguing Agreeably
Lesson 25. Text Nuggets: Finding Evidence  
Lesson 26. Human Continuum  
Lesson 27. Where Do You Stand?  
Lesson 28. Hearing Everyone's Ideas First  
Lesson 29. Arguing Both Sides  
Lesson 30. Civilized Disagreement  
Chapter 10. Small-Group Projects
Lesson 31. Developing an Assessment Rubric  
Lesson 32. Planning Group Projects  
Lesson 33. Keeping Individual Project Logs  
Lesson 34. Midcourse Corrections  
Lesson 35. Being an Attentive Audience Member  
Appointment Clock  
Membership Grid  
Group Meeting Procedures  
Thin-Crust Cheese Pizza Rubric  
Project Rubric  
Group Work Plan Form  
Individual Group Member Work Plan Form  
References and Further Readings
About the Artist


"Collaboration and cooperation do not emerge magically. We must explicitly teach kids the social strategies of collaborative behavior: to listen attentively, ask follow up questions, and disagree agreeably. Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction does exactly that. Through a series of engaging slides, lessons, and activities, kids learn and practice important SEL strategies that will lead to more learning, greater achievement, and an inviting and fun classroom environment where kids work collaboratively, independently and develop a sense of agency. . . . Teachers need it and will love it, but more importantly, so will kids!” 

STEPHANIE HARVEY, Coauthor of The Comprehension Toolkit

 “Teaching the Social Skills of Academic Interaction recognizes the importance of establishing an emotionally healthy classroom---a classroom where students have been taught to manage their emotions, to build relationships, and to work effectively with one another. The easy-to-use lessons in this book connect with students by giving them more responsibility, more control, and more choice. As Daniels and Steineke say, the best classrooms are those in which students are treated like the people they want to become. This book helps teachers to build those classrooms. I highly recommend it.”

KELLY GALLAGHER, Author of Write Like This

"Harvey 'Smokey' Daniels and Nancy Steineke write with humor and common sense about the challenges of bringing a diversity of students into harmony each school year. . . . This book holds the research and the tools to change the way classrooms operate. With 35 lessons (one for each week of school) and the systematic guidance of thoughtful, smart colleagues to explain the importance and likely obstacles to each lesson, teachers will learn to guide student groups in productive, dynamic ways.”

PENNY KITTLE, Author of Book Love

 “Do you cringe when it’s time for small-group work? Do you find that work time gets too unruly when students have a chance to discuss with partners? If so, you need this book. Smokey and Nancy, the king and queen of conversation, guide teachers in setting up systems and structures that allow for purposeful talk to happen in the classroom. Teachers pondering how to prepare students for the CCSS speaking and listening standards and, more importantly, as effective communicators for the world outside of school will truly appreciate all this book has to offer.”

CRIS TOVANI, Author of So What Do They Really Know?

“Group work no longer begins and ends in the classroom—it’s a reality—a life skill. My favorite part about the book is that it works with whatever content you’re teaching. The lessons are focused on the students’ interactions while the content of the work is reflective of what is happening in the classroom. So it’s not ‘another’ thing to do on your already long list of things to teach. Clever and creative, this is a valuable resource for teachers of all disciplines.”

AIMEE BUCKNER, Author of Notebook Know-How

Sample Materials & Chapters

Lesson 12_Extend_Convo.pps

Daniels Lesson 12

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ISBN: 9781483350950